Best of Daily Reflections: Walking Around in the Skin of the Paralytic
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus.
This is the fourth installment in a five-day series of reflections on Luke 5:17-26, the story of the healing of the paralyzed man. Each day I'm trying to "walk around in the skin" of someone (or a group) in the story, so as to see things from their perspective. In this way, I hope to hear God's Word afresh. So far, I've "put on the skin" of Jesus, the Pharisees, and the mat carriers. Today, I want to put myself in the place of the paralyzed man.
Once again, we know very little about this man. We don't know why he was paralyzed or for how long. We don't know the extent of his paralysis, except that it's obvious he was unable to walk. We aren't sure whether he asked the men to carry his mat or whether they offered. But we do know that he consented. He was eager to be healed, and Jesus was his only hope. So he allowed several men to carry him to the house where Jesus was teaching . . . one more shameful reminder of his inability to get around on his own. One more time of feeling dependent, needy, and broken.
I can imagine this man's disappointment when he discovered that the crowd at the house was standing-room only. His hope for healing was gone. How devastating! Yet how might he have felt when he heard his friends debating about breaking through the roof to get him to Jesus? Hopeful? Shocked? Fearful?
There is a big part of me that doesn't want to inconvenience anyone. I fear that people won't like me if I bother them. Plus, there's an even bigger part of me that needs to be self-reliant. The thought of being carried on a mat is not a happy one. It gets worse when I imagine being let down through the roof.
Yet, if I'm going to receive the healing Jesus has for me, then I need to acknowledge my neediness. I need the healing that only he can give: the healing of my heart and spirit, if not my body. Moreover, God has designed human life such that my need for him is expressed through my need for others. As James 5:13-18 makes clear, my experience of God's healing and forgiveness depends, to an extent, on my willingness to allow others to be channels of God's grace in my life. In order to receive this grace, I have to admit to others that I need their help and prayers.
The story of the paralyzed man encourages us to take the risk of entrusting our neediness to others. After all, the result of this trust for the paralyzed man was striking: forgiveness and healing! As I read this story, I am motivated to put down my mask of self-sufficiency and risk sharing with trusted brothers and sisters my need, so that they might "carry" me to Jesus.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have there been times in your life when people have "carried" you to Jesus? What happened? How did this feel? Are you willing to share your needs with others so they might pray for you and care for you? Why or why not?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I think about this story from the perspective of the paralyzed man, I realize how hard it is for me to need people's help. After all, I have enough problems with trusting you. How much harder it is for me to trust other people, even to need them.
Help me, Lord, to take seriously the example of the paralyzed man, not to mention the exhortations of James 5:13-18. May I risk opening up to others, sharing my needs, my brokenness, so that they might be my "mat carriers." Amen.
P.S. from Mark
One of the things I love about Laity Lodge is a fifty-year history of people sharing openly and honestly, risking telling the truth about themselves so that others might help "carry" them. From the very beginning, Laity Lodge has been a safe place where people can let down their masks and be who they really are. Thus, God is able to deal with people in healing and transformative ways, as well as to build a genuine community of love and acceptance.
Nobody at Laity Lodge is ever forced to share anything they do not want to share. Yet many people sense a freedom in the love of Christ and his people to open up about their needs and struggles. If you're looking for a safe place to be who you are and let God touch your life, let me encourage you to consider a visit to Laity Lodge.